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Right To Play in the Palestinian Territories

Right To Play began working in the Palestinian Territories in 2003, after striking agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to work with schools in refugee camps.

In 2008, we initiated an after-school program with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education that was extended into classrooms and kindergartens. That same year, we launched community programming to promote youth engagement and leadership development.

In 2019, we extended our work to all 370 UNRWA schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip thanks to the support of the Government of Canada.

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The challenges faced by children and youth in the Palestinian Territories

The West Bank and Gaza Strip have been under military occupation for more than 50 years. Residents have experienced violence, restrictions in movement, displacement, and a blockade of the Gaza Strip, all of which have led to an unstable and unhealthy environment for children and youth. Although children and youth make up more than 50% of the population, they are largely excluded from community leadership and decision-making processes.

The ongoing conflict has had a detrimental impact on the provision of education. The education system in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is over-stretched and characterized by sub-standard school infrastructure and chronic underfunding. Teachers strive but struggle to create safe and inclusive environments. In response to these challenges, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and UNRWA have developed strategic plans to enhance education quality and promote improved learning environments. Support from education-focused organization is helping to make a difference.

  • 73% of the population of the Gaza Strip and 28.5% of the population of the West Bank are registered with UNRWA as refugees
  • 61% of students have witnessed physical violence at school
  • Only 6% of youth are members of a sports club (2% of girls and 11% of boys)
  • 1 in 3 children with disabilities aged 6 to 9 are out of school
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Creating safe, inclusive and engaging learning environments

Right To Play enriches the quality of learning environments by renovating classrooms and providing teaching tools and resources. We train teachers on how to challenge gender stereotypes and promote equitable participation in the classroom. And we support school officials and communities to address violence, including gender-based violence, both in and out of school.

Right To Play worked with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to develop “Minimum Standards for Active Classrooms,” which provides standards for active, child-centered classrooms, including overall space in the classroom, lighting, furniture, colour choice, and use of technologies. In 2020, we renewed our focus on ensuring that schools are accessible to children with disabilities, in part through the establishment of school inclusion committees.

Right To Play training reinforced our role as teachers in improving the quality of teaching inside the classroom and concentrating on child-centered intervention, which has positively reflected on students’ skills and interaction.” — Teacher, girls’ school, Gaza Strip

Strengthening teaching practice for improved learning outcomes

Right To Play invests in the professional development of teachers through our comprehensive in-service training program that promotes the use of child-centered, play-based pedagogy. We create peer exchange mechanisms and train principals and head teachers on coaching and mentoring so they can support teachers to integrate play-based learning in the classroom.

We worked with a coalition of education actors and the Ministry of Education to develop the National Framework Document for the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) curriculum, which includes sport and play as integral components. Launched in 2017, the National Framework has been translated into practice through a National Early Childhood Teacher Training Manual, which supports early childhood care and development teachers and facilitators to use play-based approaches.

In 2020, we began to use play-based approaches to help children in grades 1 to 4 reach minimum proficiency levels in reading.

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Promoting the psychosocial well-being and leadership of girls and boys

Right To Play uses structured play in schools and communities to help children develop life skills that promote psychosocial well-being and leadership. At the community level, we train youth coaches to lead sport and play activities that are designed to build skills in conflict resolution, collaboration and self-esteem. These community coaches often become ambassadors of change and positive role models for other children, youth and community members. After the Kufur Nemeh girls’ football club participated in the national league, its members became stars and the leaders of change in their community.

At the school level, we provide primary teachers, physical education teachers, and school counsellors with the knowledge and skills to engage girls and boys using gender-responsive, play-based psychosocial support strategies designed to promote their resilience, healing, and healthy relationships. We also train teachers on how to identify and refer children in need of additional support.

Stay connected to children in the Palestinian Territories

Right To Play works in partnership with UNRWA, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, the High Council for Youth and Sport, and local civil society organizations to address the critical need for life skills development, quality basic education, psychosocial support, and the participation of girls and women in the Palestinian Territories. Our current programs focus on empowering children through transformative education in line with the Palestinian Authority’s Education Sector Strategic Plan and UNRWA’s Medium Term Strategy.

Our programs in the Palestinian Territories are also supported by the Government of Canada, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Norad, Latter Day Saints Charities, the Royal Dutch Football Association, and supporters like you.

Contact our office in the Palestinian Territories
14 Wadea Shatara St.
Phone:​ 0097022975733

More info on our work in the Palestinian Territories